Residents say improvements haven’t made Semmes Avenue any safer for pedestrians


RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Residents in one Richmond neighborhood have renewed calls for drivers to slow down after a pedestrian was hit along Semmes Avenue Friday night.

A pedestrian suffered life threatening injuries and went to the hospital after the traffic incident near the intersection of 27th and Semmes Avenue.

Now Woodland Heights neighbors are concerned that newly implemented safety measures aren’t helping. Jeff Hassler, who has lived near Semmes Avenue for 11 years, said he witnessed the aftermath of the crash.

“Everybody just needs to slow down,” he said.

He was outside on his deck when it happened. “Heard the crash and then the horn honking sustained,” he said.

But this isn’t the first time he heard of pedestrian-related crashes in the area. Hassler said he believes speeding contributes to the issue.

“Living one block off Semmes is a major concern for us. We’ve had folks get angry and honk when we’re trying to go 30 miles per hour. We’ve even had folks cross the double line to pass us into oncoming traffic,” he said.

“It’s truly a problem and it doesn’t seem to be getting better,” he said.

The pedestrian hit Friday evening was identified as Alan Griffin by his close friend Zarina Falzaldin. Griffin was helping a friend clean up their yard and then walked to the bus stop at the intersection of 27th and Semmes avenue.

“I was shocked. I got a call the next day in the morning it was very shocking. He is a good brother to me,” she said.

She said Griffin is undergoing surgery Monday with several broken bones.

Falzaldin added that he is an animal lover, walks the neighbors’ dogs and serves food at Resurrection Lutheran Church.

“Everyone knows him because anytime you need anything Alan will be there,” she said.

Falzaldin said commuters outside of the Woodland Heights area are the ones not paying attention to traffic signs.

“Once they get onto Semmes Avenue, they cut here onto 28th Street. They just… zoom it,” she said.

Woodland Heights residents are fed up with drivers not adhering to the speed limit. The speed limit was reduced to 30 mph and a fine was increased to $200 to help reduce traffic crashes.

So far this year, the Virginia Department of Transportation has reported 11 traffic incidents in the area, according to Councilwoman Stephanie Lynch. She said the city will install two hybrid pedestrian beacons next spring to improve pedestrian safety.

As for Friday’s crash, the driver involved remained at the scene and at this time no word from police if speed played a factor.

No charges have been filed at this time.

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